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a shanty in the bush


Mum dad and my sisters were in India for 4 years and they lived in great luxury as dad was an engineer there.
They came to new Zealand in summer 1937 and as there was no jobs available they had to start to build a gold claim/ mine gold claim in the dense bush on the west coast of the south island of New Zealand where ‘shanty town’( tourist place) is now.
From a minimum of 7 servants in India to cooking over a bush fire in west coast

this is what she would have met after landing in NZ

my dad built a shanty of bush timber wire netting and malthoid (sort of tar paper fabric )
must have been a huge shock for my mother that all her married life had servants to do everything for her.
Well mum survived and soon she had a little garden carved out of the bush.
6 months in the bush and a rush to the hospital in a thunder storm and I arrived on the scene
18 months later

In February 1939 I was an little boy who had lived all his life in the bush
One sunny day I was taken out over the 2 mile track to the main road and dad and mum took turns at carrying me
We eventually came to a wide track I had never seen a road before” wow dads been busy“ I thought
We waited a while by the road, my older sisters were excited and I was very interested in the unusual things going on.
Soon a monstrous thing that had shiny bits all over it came rumbling along the huge shingle path way( much bigger than dads wee paths).
I was very apprehensive when the monster had doors, (our shanty had a sack across the door)that opened, and we were able to get in this thing and with a lot of noise it moved along the road.
Wow was I interested this was great no more walking.
Soon we came to some huge shacks that were made of straight wood real cool they were.
Our house was made of bush timber wire netting and tar paper
Then we came to a grassy paddock and wow so much grass and no trees.
Another monster thing in silver color was parked in the grass and dad and mum and two excited sisters went over to the huge monstrous thing.
Funny place to put verandas with one on top and one on bottom and would be hard to shelter under the bottom ones. Ah ha! The little one at the back is for kids and I dived under the little one (the tail of the plane) but was promptly grabbed and held.
How ever my two older sisters were put in the monstrous machine and they sat on a funny sort of seat.
Then mum got in and then I started to cry as I realized I was going to get swallowed by this thing as well.
My dad introduced me to the pilot and called him ‘Bert’ not having ever seen another man than my father I thought Oh well that’s a ‘Bert’ what ever it is.
The pilot ‘Bert’ to me was very kind and handed me over the wing ( veranda to me) and I was placed in mums arms.
I remember seeing ‘Bert’ the pilot walking around the right side wing and making a scraping noise as he climbed in the machine on top of us.
I then saw his face in a small window in the top of our cabin.
Then this huge noise as the monster started to move and wow we were going faster than I had ever gone before
Then we were going up in the air up higher than dads trees and the ground was way below. We were flying just like the tuis and pigeons back in the bush
Well I have to stop here as I fell asleep and don’t remember much more.

After all what do 18 month old boys do when they have had such an adventure
A first flight in a fox moth aero plane

This Easter I made a special trip to an air show where the restored fox moth airplane was being displayed.
When I got there I located the aircraft and with a bit of fast talking got past the security and was able to meet the pilot of the fox moth and introduced my self as one of the first passengers to his aero plane
He was delighted and emptied the cabin out and allowed me to get some pictures of me inside.
So I sat in the same cramped cabin as I had some 70 years ago
I was able to tell the pilot of two minor things that were different then from what they were now
Such a fantastic memory of a first encounter of any machine for me at 18 months old

nearly 70 years later orange now (regulations) but still remember the foot step was on the right side of the plane

the plane when i rode in it was 6 months old and was the first air taxi
so i would have been a first commercial air line passenger

More blog posts by piersdad

Previous post: the cave a bit of history

Next post: Greenmeadows a visit to home town



It's wonderful you can remember as far back as that. I can remember to when I was 3, but not 18 months.

17 Sep, 2009


i was blessed with a picture memory and can recall intricate details of things that interest me particularly mechanical things and was able to describe to a friend the workings of a pianola and he was amazed that any one could remember the details i told him. and even more amazed when i saw the working of the pianola at 2 1/2 years old.

17 Sep, 2009


That's wonderful :o)

17 Sep, 2009


Amazing story... can you include in the blog a photo of you in the restored fox moth ?

17 Sep, 2009



17 Sep, 2009


Lovely pic....:o)
that must bring back so many memories !

17 Sep, 2009


Thanks for the photos.

17 Sep, 2009


Hi Piersdad. Lovely story I enjoyed reading it. I have jumped a few light aircraft , Not jumped one like in your photo

17 Sep, 2009


I had never read about this before, PD! You most certainly have the most extraordinary memory!!! Most people have a few images in their mind of when they were only a few years old but I've never come across someone who could possibly remember such detail from such a young age!

Great photo of you & the pane!

26 Sep, 2009

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